Columbia Receives $3 Million Award From Pediatric Cancer Foundation for New Research Laboratory

Mar 1, 2002


The Division of Pediatric Oncology at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons (P&S) and the Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian have received a three-year, $3 million grant from the Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF) of Irvine, Calif. to establish a state-of-the-art pediatric oncology research laboratory. The award will help Columbia pediatric cancer researchers facilitate investigations into a number of promising research areas—allowing them to probe the genetics, immunology, biochemistry, and cellular processes of childhood lymphomas and develop exciting new diagnostic tools, preventative measures, and treatment modalities for childhood cancers.

"I am thrilled that PCRF has chosen us to receive such a substantial, generous award," said Dr. Mitchell S. Cairo, principal investigator and assistant professor of pediatrics at P&S, head of the pediatric cancer research program at Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, and director of the new laboratory. "It is a testament to both the incredible talent and dedication of our pediatric cancer specialists and to the strong partnership that my colleagues and I have been able to forge with PCRF."

"PCRF is delighted to contribute to the progress that Dr. Cairo and his team continue to make from bench side to bedside," says Nancy Franks, executive director of PCRF. "With their help, brainpower, and commitment, we may very well be able to generate the kind of knowledge that can be applied directly to the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of pediatric cancer—benefiting sick and suffering children not just in New York, but all over the United States."

A renowned expert in stem cell biology, molecular oncology, and experimental immunology, Dr. Cairo joined the Columbia staff as a full-time faculty member in March 2000, after successful stints as director of pediatric cancer research and bone marrow transplantation at the Children's Hospital of Orange County in Irvine, Calif. and as a professor of pediatrics, medicine, and pathology, and director of bone marrow transplantation at Georgetown University. He is presently the principal investigator and chairman of several stem cell transplantation studies that use unrelated cord blood and donor stem cells to help eradicate pediatric cancers and also has substantial clinical responsibilities as director of the Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian's blood and marrow transplant and experimental therapeutics programs for children with cancer.

The new 2,000-square-foot laboratory will incorporate a suite of research facilities—three interconnected laboratories and a tissue culture room—that feature the latest, most high-tech equipment available, providing ample research space and ideal working conditions for the 20 members of Dr. Cairo's research team. The laboratory will be dedicated at a ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony on Friday, March 22, at Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian. Top representatives from Columbia University, Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian, and PCRF will be in attendance. Speakers at the event will include Dr. Gerald M. Fischbach, executive vice president of health and biomedical sciences and dean of the Faculty of Medicine, Columbia University; Dr. Karen Antman, Wu Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology at P&S and director of the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center; Cynthia Sparer, executive director, Children's Hospital of NewYork-Presbyterian; and John Wiener, president, Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation.

The Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation (PCRF) was founded in 1982 to improve the care, quality of life, and survival rate of children with malignant diseases. Since its inception, PCRF has raised more than $10 million to fund cutting-edge research that leads to medically sound treatment protocols for childhood cancers. PCRF is privately supported through donations from individuals, charitable foundations, and businesses that recognize the urgent need to improve treatment and find cures for pediatric cancers.

Some pediatric cancer statistics: Despite tremendous progress in research and patient care, the battle is far from over. Cancer today remains the No. 1 killer of young people, afflicting more children under 18 years of age each year than any other disease. In 2002, enough children to fill 2 classrooms are diagnosed with cancer each school day. Although survival rates are improving, one out of every 330 young people will develop cancer by age 20, and 35 percent of children with cancer will die from the disease. (source: PCRF)